Biochemistry of Macromolecules

The details
Life Sciences (School of)
Colchester Campus
Undergraduate: Level 4
Monday 13 January 2020
Friday 20 March 2020
16 May 2019


Requisites for this module


BS230, BS281

Key module for

BSC C700 Biochemistry,
BSC C701 Biochemistry (Including Placement Year),
BSC C703 Biochemistry (Including Year Abroad),
BSC CR00 Biochemistry (Including Foundation Year),
BSC C100 Biological Sciences,
BSC C101 Biological Sciences (Including Year Abroad),
BSC C102 Biological Sciences (Including Placement Year),
BSC CD00 Biological Sciences (Including Foundation Year),
BSC B990 Biomedical Science,
BSC B991 Applied Biomedical Science (NHS placement),
BSC B995 Biomedical Science (Including Year Abroad),
BSC B999 Biomedical Science (Including Placement Year),
BSC BD00 Biomedical Science (Including Foundation Year),
BSC C400 Genetics,
BSC C402 Genetics (Including Year Abroad),
BSC C403 Genetics (Including Placement Year),
BSC CK00 Genetics (Including Foundation Year),
BSC C200 Human Biology,
BSC C201 Human Biology (Including Year Abroad),
BSC C202 Human Biology (Including Placement Year)

Module description

This module will investigate the structure and biochemistry of biologically-important macromolecules. The structure, function and evolution of proteins, and the properties of their building blocks, the amino acids will then be examined. Furthermore, how reversible binding of various ligand molecules to proteins relates to their biological role will be explored. The structures of the main carbohydrates of life, the polysaccharides, and the properties of their building blocks, the monosaccharides will then be examined. Finally, the structures and functions of the major types of lipids, i.e. triacylglycerols, phospholipids, sphingolipids and steroids, will be explored, particularly in relation to membrane structure and hormone action.

Module aims

The aim of this module is to investigate the structure and biochemistry of biologically important macromolecules. The course also aims to illustrate some basic experimental techniques used in biochemistry and offers students the opportunity to gain experience of a range of equipment and computer software.

Module learning outcomes

In order to pass this module, students will need to be able to:

1. describe the key structural features of proteins and explain how protein structure relates to function;
2. outline the basic principles of protein structural evolution;
3. describe how ligand-binding equilibria may form the basis of diverse biological phenomena;
4. describe the structures and functions of the major types of carbohydrates and lipids;
5. demonstrate competence in the analysis and interpretation of data, b) written communication, c) biochemical methodology and d) calculation of biochemical parameters.

Employability and Transferable Skills:

data analysis, interpretation and presentation
use of column chromatography for the separation of proteins
measure UV-VIS absorbance of protein samples using a spectrophotometer
prepare reagents following protocols
perform titrations
• estimate single-substrate enzyme kinetic values

Module information

No additional information available.

Learning and teaching methods

24 x 1 hour lectures plus 1 revision class before MCQ and 1 revision class before summer exam; 3 x 3 hour practicals


  • Nelson, David L.; Lehninger, Albert L.; Cox, Michael M. (2017) Lehninger Principles of biochemistry, Basingstoke: Macmillan Higher Education.

The above list is indicative of the essential reading for the course. The library makes provision for all reading list items, with digital provision where possible, and these resources are shared between students. Further reading can be obtained from this module's reading list.

Assessment items, weightings and deadlines

Coursework / exam Description Deadline Weighting
Practical   Practical 1     
Practical   Practical 2     
Practical   Practical 3     
Exam  65 minutes during Early Exams (Multiple Choice) 
Exam  75 minutes during Summer (Main Period) (Main) 

Overall assessment

Coursework Exam
33% 67%


Coursework Exam
33% 67%
Module supervisor and teaching staff
Dr Filippo Prischi, email:
Dr Filippo Prischi, Dr Gareth Jones
School Undergraduate Office, email: bsugoffice (Non essex users should add to create the full email address)



External examiner

Dr Clive Butler
The University of Exeter
Associate Professor of Microbial Biochemistry
Available via Moodle
Of 417 hours, 24 (5.8%) hours available to students:
393 hours not recorded due to service coverage or fault;
0 hours not recorded due to opt-out by lecturer(s).


Further information
Life Sciences (School of)

Disclaimer: The University makes every effort to ensure that this information on its Module Directory is accurate and up-to-date. Exceptionally it can be necessary to make changes, for example to programmes, modules, facilities or fees. Examples of such reasons might include a change of law or regulatory requirements, industrial action, lack of demand, departure of key personnel, change in government policy, or withdrawal/reduction of funding. Changes to modules may for example consist of variations to the content and method of delivery or assessment of modules and other services, to discontinue modules and other services and to merge or combine modules. The University will endeavour to keep such changes to a minimum, and will also keep students informed appropriately by updating our programme specifications and module directory.

The full Procedures, Rules and Regulations of the University governing how it operates are set out in the Charter, Statutes and Ordinances and in the University Regulations, Policy and Procedures.